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Published: Monday, 4/21/2003

Atrium to assist access, security

An artist has submitted a rendering of what the atrium would look like when finished. An artist has submitted a rendering of what the atrium would look like when finished.
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BOWLING GREEN - Wood County officials hope a $2.2 million atrium will tie together three county buildings while solving maintenance and security issues.

The glass structure, designed by SSOE of Toledo, will cover 9,000 square feet and link the county courthouse, records center, and office building.

“What we wanted to do was connect the three and marry the three buildings together in a style that would pay homage to all three of the buildings,'' said Ken Schumaker, an SSOE architect who helped design the atrium.

The county commissioners will present details of the courthouse plaza project during a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday on the fifth floor of the County Office Building. Construction is expected to take nine months to a year.

Andrew Kalmar, county administrator, said the atrium will incorporate elements from the courthouse and records center, ornate Romanesque structures built in the late 19th century, and the office building, a boxy, concrete facility built in the mid-1970s.

The terrazzo floor inside the atrium, for instance, will include colors that match the sandstone exterior and red clay tile roofs of the courthouse and the records center, which used to be the county jail. Concrete matching the office building also will be used in the atrium.

Mr. Schumaker said the commissioners decided to construct an atrium, instead of a stone or concrete structure, to avoid drawing attention away from the buildings themselves.

“The commissioners wanted it to be as transparent as possible, so there's a fair amount of glass in it,'' he said. “The design of it is a little on the transitional side. It's contemporary, but it pays homage to the original buildings also.''

With the atrium, officials will be able to establish one entrance for all three buildings if security needs dictate, Mr. Kalmar said. “This will allow that to occur in the future, if it's necessary,'' he said. “That will not occur now.''

The atrium also will stop water from leaking into basement and garage space below the current plaza, Mr. Kalmar said. Some county records and maintenance equipment are stored under the plaza.

The concrete sidewalk and a rubber membrane underneath have deteriorated over the past 25 years.

“These are issues that we're going to have to take care of anyway, because we've put Band-Aids on them,'' Mr. Kalmar said.

Nearly half the atrium's cost is being covered by $1 million in state funds, which state Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) helped obtain. The remaining $1.2 million will come from county permanent improvement funds.

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